Friday, May 15, 2015

Sometimes it is worth it.

So, it has been months since I've updated this blog, mostly because I'm buried.  Buried in work, Spanish, life, etc.  But mostly, work/Spanish.  Sometimes, like this week, it's worth it.

"It seems like you spend a lot of time working on like lessons and stuff for us.  I really appreciate that."- 8th grader, said in conversation
"Yeah, I feel like I've learned more in this year than I have in the previous two." -8th grader, said in conversation
"Your homework was the only homework my daughter wanted to do.  You should know there are a lot of parents singing your praises right now." -parent 

Wow, thanks.  Because it's easy to just be in my own little world.  Because in October, I realized I hated the material I was teaching (not the subject) and the way I was teaching it, and threw it all out and tried something else, something new, and something scary.

Today I made a gentle joke about one of my kids, referencing something he'd said about himself yesterday, in Spanish,  and he laughed!  That is, he understood it (wow!) and then laughed!  Sometimes all that work and time and tears and stress seems to be paying off, at least for this minute.

And who knows what other curveball I'm going to be thrown this afternoon (because that's part of this job too- never knowing if I'm doing good enough), but for now, I feel pretty good.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Wives

It's been a while.  Sorry about that.  Starting at a new school, new grades, new's a lot of work.  Good work.  Overall, I'm very, very happy with my job and feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I fall in and out of love with SLC daily, even moment by moment.

This weekend, XC skiing on a converted rail trail in Park City, then a perfect bluebird groomer day at Solitude, was a falling in love sort of day.  Today, with the crummy air quality and papers to grade, less so.

But what I want to bitch about is The Wives.  What do I mean by The Wives?  Well, here it is:
Women who perhaps once were active and played hard and were gear heads and did things, but now are Wives and Mothers.  They have lost their need (if they ever had it) for better fitting chamois shorts and longer travel suspension forks on small framed bikes.  They would not consider bike packing to be a fantastic way to spend a long weekend, and even if they did, well, someone has to watch the kids.

That isn't to say that I disrespect their choice to become parents (that's a whole other issue) and please know that I'm mostly talking about women that I've met here in SLC, not my dearest girlfriends who have made the transition into parenthood.

But I'm not a fucking Wife.  I don't want to sit on the couch at the party and talk about schools and children.  I want to see who wants to go riding with me tomorrow, next week, this summer.  I don't care particularly about when your child learned how to ride a bike; when did you?  Where do you ride?   Why are you boring me with stories about your kids?  And can we just have one conversation where we aren't interrupted by your brat?  Just one?  When did people forget how to teach politeness? (That is a whole other other issue.  And I could go on for days...)

I am so much more than a wife.

Where it becomes most frustrating is when my husband's friends plan trips that are either "family friendly" (read: women in camp with kids/hell) or hammer fests (100+ mile days, no mercy/also hell).  What about the people who wish to play with their partners and not destroy their bodies?  Where are the couples who do that?  Why is there only one or the other?  And why, being neither a hammerhead nor a mother, don't I fit in anywhere?

So my husband and I rarely play with others, with a few exceptions.  There is a group of bike packers here led by a dynamic, un-married, un-parented woman who I enjoy riding with.  Um...what else?

I can't figure out if this situation is Salt Lake (and the insanely patriarchal society that is stuck somewhere in the '70s), my age/time of life, or what.  Sure, it makes sense that people get married (I did) and have kids, but why do they instantly become boring?  (Again, not personal, just noting the way things are here in SLC, especially at my husband's work.)  Does having kids change you so much that you can't be friends with people who don't?  Am I just a bitch because I can't put myself in their shoes?  (Try having 30 of them in a classroom- just try it, and then say that I can't put myself in their shoes.)  Or is it just this town, this time, my interests?  I don't know.

Thus, in and out of love with Salt Lake.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yep, it is all ok

What else can I say?

5th wedding anniversary- super awesome dinner at Finca and camping and mountain biking on Antelope Island (one of the coolest places I've ever been and 40 miles from our door).  My husband is the greatest.

I am now a Utah Master Naturalist.  The class that I took was amazing, I learned a ton, and half of our field guides referenced my grandmother's work.  I am so excited to use some of my new knowledge to teach outdoor education.  Andy has assured me that keeping species lists and carrying a journal and several guidebooks is not completely dorky.  He may be wrong about that, but I don't care.  I'm so pleased to be able to do all that.  I even accurately named a few plant species at Antelope Island!

New job/beginning of the school year- loving it.  Just...loving it.  Did I mention that I get paid to go hiking?  And that I get all the support, structure, and freedom to be the teacher that I am?   And lunch is practically free and cooked for me every day? So far, no tears.  NO TEARS!!  What a difference from last year at this time.   I really enjoy middle school; the kids, the colleagues, the expectations, the fact that I'm only teaching one subject... (OK, I am co-teaching Outdoor Environmental Education, but there is a lead teacher and not much prep)...all in all, it's fantastic.

Kittehs!  Diego and Shasta, alternately difficult teen-age cats and unbelievable adorable cuddle muffins.  Yep.  Cuddle muffins.  I still miss Simon terribly though.  I keep finding his fur everywhere.  Sad.

BECK!- We saw Beck at an outdoor concert.  OK, really, I saw a tiny person with a hat, in between the other several thousand people there.  Nonetheless, it was a fantastic show, the acoustics were incredible, and he played several songs from his newest album.  If you like Sea Change and you haven't heard Morning Phase yet, run and get it now.  I listen to it almost every day, and it just gets better.

Broken toe- hey, I can even walk on it now!  I can even ride my mountain bike. Being patient with myself and spending lots of time resting really paid off.

Our fantastic neighborhood- in a few short minutes, one neighbor gave us this incredible sauce that magically transformed into dinner, plus grape jam.  Another, stopping by, dropped off pear sauce (like applesauce, only pear-y), and green tomatoes (pickled).  Amazing.

So, yeah, it's all ok.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A little happy news in the world of education for some inspiration

School starts in three days.  I'm extremely excited to be starting my new job at my new school, and my head is awhirl with lesson plans and course overviews and all kinds of middle school things that I never thought about.

And, this article reminds me that there are courageous and honorable teachers out there.  Isn't that great?  Bonus for mentioning my old friend Josh.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adventures and Asthma

I came home to a sad, empty house and a Simon-filled hole in my world.  It's been really tough getting on with things, frankly.  I miss him every single day, every minute, it seems.

However, in order to dispel the empty-house syndrome, we decided to invite two new friends into our home.  They are still letting us get to know them and our list of names continues to grow.  We met them at a Petco where they had been rescued by an organization from a kill-shelter.  Both are about 5 months now, have startlingly different personalities, and are quite incredible.
No names, lots of adorables.

Then, in a whirlwind of packing, we did a short (26 hours) bike tour to the high Unitas with some new people, and then I took off for a 10 day bike-packing trip in Idaho.
Bikepacking in the Uintas...practicing for Idaho

Alas, the trip was not to be incredibly successful for me, sadly.  Although it was incredible (views, roads, hot springs, nature, mountains), my asthma started to act up the first mile, and never really let up. It got moderately scary, especially lying in my tent all night coughing and wondering if I'd ever sleep.  Or, the next night, lying in my tent after too many puffs on the rescue inhaler and lots of caffeine (effective asthma treatment), wondering if I'd ever sleep.

Making the tough decision to go home, somewhere in Idaho
I decided not to risk myself or my companions, and set off solo towards the next major town- about 30 miles (10 of them seriously uphill) away.  The thing that was scary is that the only people who knew where I was going to be were headed to an even more remote part of the forest; no phones, no people.  I had everything I needed- warm clothes (which was good because one morning we woke to find our water bottles frozen!), bear spray (totally unnecessary), and more food than I could have possibly eaten.  There was water everywhere so that made it easy to stay hydrated, but even so, I didn't feel completely comfortable.  The climb was on a dusty, steep road and my goal was to keep my heart rate incredibly low, even if it meant walking my bike.  I was very successful at this, actually, moving along at a high RPM pace (which, if you don't ride bikes, you should know is not only good for your knees but also good for energy conservation) and although my progress was painfully slow, there was progress.

However, when given the opportunity for a ride, I took it.  No shame.  Ok, a little bit of shame, but getting into trouble in the backcountry because I made stupid decisions isn't something I want to happen to me.  I got a lift for about 4 miles, the last four miles to the summit of the big steep pass, and pedaled all the way down to McCall.  All told, I ended up riding about 25 miles that day, and came into town to meet a nice group of cyclists who hosted me at their camp site and gave me access to a much needed shower.  They also fed me and, when I mentioned that I was considering trying to get back to the town where I left my car (about 40 highway miles, 50 dirt miles away), threw my bike on their truck and drove me.  It was in the direction of where they were going anyway.

So, exhausted, sore, breathing poorly and with some disappointment, I returned home.  And broke my toe, but that's another story.  Also, the reason why I am inside on a beautiful summer day with my foot up and a grumpy expression on my face.